Joseph Smith III: Pragmatic Prophet

Roger D. Launius, Author
Roger D. Launius, Author University of Illinois Press $24.95 (394p) ISBN 978-0-252-01514-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
This interesting, well-researched biography of the founder of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints covers the 54 years of his presidency, a tenure marked by Mormon factionalism that he succeeded in controlling. The son of the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith III at first resisted succeeding his father as leader and prophet but, as his biographer underscores, his governance from 1860 until his death in 1914 was fiercely committed to the religious legacy of his parent. Differing in style from the elder Smith's ``sometimes disastrous impracticality,'' his son exemplified rugged individualism with a secular pragmatism that sprang from his legal education. An opponent of polygamy, as proclaimed by Brigham Young, the younger Smith established a viable bureaucracy and a style of leadership that characterizes the Mormon community today, notes the author, a military historian. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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